What you see above is probably a typical image that strangers in my area have of me. Rummaging in a hedge, pulling out litter! I find it hard to ignore rubbish, and even more so when it’s somewhere green, somewhere that wildlife should be finding food or a home.
We’re fortunate to have several green spaces around the Peartree ward where I live, but all need regular litter picks. These are carried out by community groups such as the Woolston Wombles, Freemantle Common Friends and Friends of Peartree Green. Much of what we find – cans and bottles – should have been recycled, and if we had a return scheme, like Germany and other places, our community groups could put money generated from litter to good use.
This is what inspired me to set myself a Litter Pick Challenge for the Big Give this year, to raise money for Youth Options, a charity that works with young people to improve their lives. I started volunteering with them a year ago, and am now an Outdoor Learning Leader, helping young people to develop their confidence and skills through engaging with the natural world.
The Big Give takes place from 30 November to 7 December, when you can make donations online here. Donations made during this time will be doubled, meaning that Youth Options can support more young people to improve their mental well-being, engage with learning and stay safe.
I’ve set myself the challenge of recycling 200 cans and bottles over four days of the Big Give period. The areas I’ll pick will include our local blue space, the shore of the River Itchen, next to the Itchen Bridge and Itchen Ferry Memorial Garden.
Another spot will be Freemantle Common, an amazing place for trees and birds. Here I am at a monthly pick with the Freemantle Common Friends .
Veracity Recreation Ground will also be on my schedule. Here you can see the wildflower bunds created a couple of years ago, which are teeming with bees and other pollinators in summer. There’s also a lovely beech hedge which provides a safe corridor for mammals such as hedgehogs – when it’s not full of plastic waste!
Peartree Green, a local nature reserve, is a reliable source of cans, especially when winter dieback of greenery reveals the Carlsberg drinker’s empties. On the left above is some of the haul from last winter, when I worked alone or with another picker to pull out more than a 1,500 cans over a few weeks. If we have a repeat of that, I might exceed my target of 200 – which I won’t mind at all if it generates more donations to Youth Options through the Big Give!